KIYC: New report shows pet scams are No. 1 complaint received by BBB

If you’re looking to buy a pet, be careful. A leading consumer group tells Kane In Your Corner that pet scams are now the No. 1 complaint they see.
Mayra Ortiz tried to buy her kids a puppy during the height of the pandemic in 2020. She was instead scammed out of more than $2,000.
Mayra tried to order a puppy from an online breeder due to the pandemic lockdowns in New Jersey at the time. She picked one out for $650, but the so-called breeder kept asking for more money. First, it was an additional $1,400, ostensibly for insurance. The breeder then requested over $2,000 more, saying the money was needed for a special, climate-controlled shipping crate.
That’s when Mayra realized the dog she was trying to buy wasn't real and neither was the breeder. Police later confirmed that this was the case.
The lockdown may have ended, but new research from the Better Business Bureau indicates pet scams are here to stay. In fact, Claire Rosenzweig, of the BBB of Metro New York, says they now account for one in five scams reported to the group’s Scam Tracker.
“Not only do they get your money, but they break your heart. And that's terrible,” she says.
While the total number of pet scams reported has declined from over 4,000 cases a year during the worst of the pandemic, to under 3,000 today, the average consumer loss is still rising. Victims now lose an average of $850.
Rosenzweig tells Kane In Your Corner that consumers can avoid being defrauded by following some basic guidelines. The BBB says it’s OK to start your search for a pet online, but always see the animal in person before you buy.
The group also says to check out whether the breeder has any complaints on file with the state Department of Consumer Affairs. If there’s a photo on the website, do a reverse image search to make sure the photo wasn’t taken from somewhere else.
Finally, the BBB says to consider paying with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
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